This fall, Dover Sherborn High School (DSHS), in conjunction with SPAN-DS (Substance Prevention Awareness Network – Dover Sherborn), will begin implementing a new health promotion project, based on the social norms approach that is designed to reduce underage alcohol and drug use.
Research consistently shows that students overestimate the extent to which their peers consume alcohol and other drugs. The social norms approach is an effective, science-based strategy that uses locally derived student data to reduce students’ misperceptions of peer alcohol and drug use. In doing so, it reinforces the positive, no-use behavior of the clear majority of students, and thereby relieves the pressure which students often feel to drink and use drugs. A number of high schools across the country that have implemented social norms projects report significant reductions in student alcohol and drug use.
The social norms will use a variety of methods – posters, flyers, mailers, screen savers, etc. – to consistently communicate accurate information about the norms of health, safety, and responsibility of most DSHS students.
“This social norms approach supports and celebrates the fact that most of our students are really doing the right thing,” says John Smith, headmaster of Dover Sherborn High School. Beverly Madden, co-chair of SPAN-DS concurs, “We now have data that reveals that most of our high school students do not drink or do drugs. By consistently communicating this information to students – and to parents, teachers, and the community at large – we hope to support those who make good decisions and empower others to make healthier choices.”
DSHS and SPAN-DS extend an open invitation to members of both the Dover and Sherborn communities to attend the presentation with Michael Haines, a national expert in the area of social norms on November 4, 2013 in Mudge Auditorium at DSHS at 7pm.